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Preview: Maple Leafs looking for fresh start against Predators

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The Leafs get Kapanen back, while the Preds hope Turris is ready to go tonight.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Toronto Maple Leafs
Jan 7, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban (76) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs as defenseman Matt Irwin (52) looks on during the second period at Scotiabank Arena.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Nashville Predators: game #73

Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

Location: Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, Tennessee

Broadcast/Streaming: TSN4, FS-TN, ESPN+, as well as NHL.com

Opponent SBNation Site: On the Forecheck (@OnTheForecheck)

Can we all forget last week happened? It was weird, and wild, and mostly frustrating. But now after a day off and a practice the Maple Leafs are in Nashville, and have brought with them a roster that is healthier than previous nights.

Kasperi Kapanen was skating with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau on the third line during Monday’s practice. Coach Mike Babcock indicated the medical staff would’ve allowed him to play as early as Friday, but took the conservative approach and made him available to the team only for this game.

Also at forward, Frederik Gauthier “got hit in the foot” during the game on Saturday and won’t be available for this weeks games. Luckily, the Leafs have Nic Petan, who will skate alongside Connor Brown and one of Tyler Ennis or Trevor Moore. The quote by Babcock was rather funny during his post-practice interview because he didn’t know what exactly happened to the Goat, only that he’s not available to him. I like a system like that. It keeps the coaches from meddling and frees their mind for more important things.

Some light reading before the game:


Maple Leafs Lines

Lines based on yesterday’s full practice

Forwards

Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Zach Hyman - John Tavares - Mitchell Marner
Patrick Marleau - Nazem Kadri - Kasperi Kapanen
Trevor Moore - Nic Petan - Connor Brown

Defense

Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Muzzin - Nikita Zaitsev
Martin Marincin - Justin Holl

Goalies

Frederik Andersen - Starting
Garret Sparks - Demanding more emotion


Nashville Predators

There is still a goaltending battle going on in Nashville. Pekka Rinne has been the de facto number one this season, starting in 48 of the 73 games the team has played, but Juuse Saros has not only been good, he’s been consistent as well. His .915 save percentage is two notches better than Rinne’s, and his play in recent weeks has been very impressive.

Must feel great to have two good goaltenders.

It will not only be interesting to see if Saros starts tonight against Toronto, but if he starts in game one of the playoffs.

Of note, Kyle Turris has missed the last two games with an injury, but recently skated on the fourth line during practice. His return is currently unknown, but he could move up to skate on the second line with Mikael Granlund and Wayne Simmonds (oh right, you’re here now) as soon as tonight vs. Toronto.

Lines from Saturday’s game against San Jose, via NHL dot com.

Forwards

Filip Forsberg - Ryan Johansen - Viktor Arvidsson
Mikael Granlund - Nick Bonino - Wayne Simmonds
Calle Jarnkrok - Colton Sissons - Craig Smith
Brian Boyle - Kyle Turris - Rocco Grimaldi

Defense

Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm - P.K. Subban
Matt Irwin - Yannick Weber

Goalies

Juuse Saros - unconfirmed starter
Pekka Rinne


The last time these two teams met was in early January. The Leafs were at the end of a week-and-a-half long homestand, coming off a 5-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks the previous Saturday night. The Preds walked into the SBA on the Monday and proceeded to beat the Leafs 4-0. Freddy Andersen was injured during this time, so it was Michael Hutchinson and his red pads who got the start and the loss. The shots in that game were famously 18-32 in favour of Nashville and the power play went 0/3.

So, hopefully tonight is a bit of the opposite as this time, it’s the Leafs coming off a big loss to a Canadian team instead of a big win. That’s how this works, right?

I already miss the Goat.